The short answer: yes! However…
How many average citizens foresaw the kind of dystopian world we are facing in 2022?. There were some prophets who did foresee such a world, Biblical prophets and prophets within other spiritual disciplines. There were prophets within literature and other media. George Orwell for one, and others whose names aren’t coming to me at this time. In the United States of America, and in many other countries, the agencies, laws, standards of community behavior which humanity as a whole has been working to develop for centuries, millennia, have to a great degree been perverted. In every field of human endeavor, the various disciplines and fields of science; medicine, public health, banking, insurance, education, psychology, sociology, religion, agriculture, energy production, communication, journalism, and government, have all to a significant extent seen their original purposes, their organizing principles, deviated from the service of promoting the well being of individuals, communities, and societies to the service of the acquisition of power and wealth by a relative few. A relative few who are willing, and increasingly able, to inflict whatever injustices, assaults, and other harms upon humanity they deem necessary or desirable in order to achieve their aims.
Medicine is no longer about the health of the patient, it is increasingly about turning a profit. Public health is about seeing that regulations which would hamper the machinations of the profit motive of industry do not become reality. Agriculture is no longer about the production of healthful, wholesome, nutritious food, it is about producing profit. Energy production is not about producing clean, abundant energy for communities and industry, it is about keeping the profits flowing to owners of the existing obsolete energy production systems. Psychology is not primarily about increasing our understanding of human mental functioning in order to promote health and well-being, it has shifted to primarily serving the goals of manipulating populations to serve the agendas of those relative few in their pursuit of power and wealth. Communication: the media, television, radio, movies, and journalism have in large measure become merely the public relations devices for that relative few. Education has become about children learning how to follow the rules and perform the tasks within industry and the military which they foresee needing. Banking and insurance are no longer primarily about providing services which help keep individuals, communities, and societies economically whole and healthy but are, again, turned to serving the acquisition of power and wealth by those relative few. Within religion, the saying that religion is the opiate of the masses has never been more applicable. And government? There may never have been a time when more governments around the world, most assuredly including the Government of the United States of America, have prostituted themselves more completely to the interests of the moneyed few.
It is necessary to qualify the above statements with the statement that every single field of endeavor which is mentioned above still has practitioners, workers, who are motivated and struggling to serve the benevolent goals which generally were present when that field of endeavor came into being. And we certainly need more.
The challenge facing individuals who aspire to a life of benevolent service is the increasing power within the respective systems of those whose hearts and minds are captured by the lures of wealth and power. Too often such individuals have captured the reins of control within the respective endeavor and use that control to render even those of genuinely benevolent motive subservient to their agendas.
Can a person of genuinely good intent manage to negotiate the obstacle course of perversions within their field of study and manage to acquire useful knowledge and bring their aspiration of genuine public service to fruition? Yes, just as it has been possible at any time in all of human existence, it is possible now. However, for such individuals to be able to keep the integrity of their honorable purpose, it requires work. Work in developing self awareness and a constant vigilance for the sometimes subtle, sometimes tempting, and sometimes intimidating attempts at corrupting that honorable purpose and their (your) personal integrity, which they (you) will face.
Of all the challenges a person who genuinely seeks to serve humanity, and of course earn a decent living will face, the one which manages to derail the honest intentions of the greatest number of people is the lure of greed. Either you will be expected to accept as normal the greed of the people whom you work for; to serve it and feed it. Or you will be groomed to believe that you deserve an inordinate, exorbitant income yourself. And of course your bosses deserve more because, well, they’re your bosses. Contemporary civilization has not only almost completely ignored all the warnings of the prophets and sages against greed, it has been glorified.
It is an inescapable reality that no matter the nobility nor the utility of the products or services which an individual or group of individuals may contribute to a people, the benefits provided can be ultimately outweighed by the harms done if the economic costs to provide the product or services captures an inordinate amount of the economic resources of those purchasing those products or services.
To withstand the lures, temptations and intimidation of those who have captured enormous wealth and power, largely through their narrow focus on the pursuit of those things, it helps greatly to have some understanding of the true, enduring nature of our existence. The more, the better. There are enduring, spiritual reasons why, for centuries, actions such as lying, stealing, cheating, greed, murder; in general harming other people through overly self-centered actions, have been discouraged. Someone might say, of course they were discouraged, they are wrong. However, why are they wrong? Are they wrong merely because they defy some arbitrary rules which humans made up because they seemed like the thing to do? No, the reasons run deeper than that. The reasons such actions have been so universally discouraged through the ages have to do with the interconnected nature of humanity. Routinely and callously engaging in actions which foster distrust, hatred, fear, and poverty in others erodes the spiritual/social fabric we all need to be healthy. The spiritual/social fabric we need in order to achieve our highest potential as a species on this planet.
In summary, it is possible to have a life of service to humanity. Not one of self-sacrifice, but one in which worthwhile service is rewarded with a worthwhile wage. However, there is no shortage of individuals, groups, corporations, who will strive to see that service turned to their exclusive benefit regardless of however harmful the result may be to humanity as a whole. They are skilled at appealing to a person’s ego in achieving that goal. Such individuals, groups, corporations are regrettably short sighted. They have yet to realize that ultimately such an agenda is as harmful to them as to those whose well-being they routinely hold in contempt.
The solution to this situation is one which spiritual leaders and many religions have been proclaiming for centuries, not always phrased exactly the same, the meaning is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Applying this concept to our lives is not always as simple as saying it. It takes effort, self-knowledge. However, ultimately, we see everyday in many horrible situations around the world where the alternative leads us. It’s time to embrace idealism.